Date of Award

Summer 2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair

Richard Mohn

Committee Chair School


Committee Member 2

Kyna Shelley

Committee Member 2 School


Committee Member 3

Lilian Hill

Committee Member 3 School


Committee Member 4

Jon Beedle

Committee Member 4 School



Mathematical literacy refers to the ability of a person to be able to comprehend and conceptualize real-world data and mathematical situations to make informed decisions. Minimal research exists compared to the explosion of video games available to the public over the past two decades. This study investigates the relationships between playing video games and the ability of a person to answer real-world questions about mathematics as well as the person’s attitude toward mathematics, including their self-confidence, perceived value, enjoyment, and motivation. Previous studies have shown mixed results related to the influence of playing video games on cognitive math ability, but research has shown some positive effects related to the influence of playing video games on attitudes toward mathematics.

A sample of adult participants (N = 255) were included in this study. Independent variables included video gameplay, measured in hours per week, as well as demographic characteristics. Cognitive math ability was measured using a 17-item multiple-choice exam while attitude components were measured using the Attitudes Toward Mathematics Inventory (Tapia, 1996). A confirmatory factor analysis assessed the four-factor model fit of the items of the Attitudes survey and then two structural models determined the relationships between the measured variables. Demographic characteristics were included as components of the second structural model.

Results indicate that playing video games has no statistically significant direct effect on cognitive math ability. Latent variables measured by the Attitudes survey showed positive effects on math ability related to self-confidence and perceived value, but negative effects related to motivation. Effects of demographic characteristics including age, gender, and academic major were also analyzed. Significant indirect path effects were found, but these effects were minimal. Limitations of the study are discussed as well as implications for future research.